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Zia McCorgi by Cooner

"Spill it, Short Legs!"

The Journal of Zia McCorgi

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Zia McCorgi by Cooner
People who know me know that I love fairy tales and and mythology stories. I have read the Brtohers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and others very happily because I like these kind of stories. Both the sanitized for modern audiences stories from Disney and the classic disturbing stories. I love fairy tales. I also love the Fairy Tales in modern life trope where people who are not well versed in fairy tales find themselves caught up in them and often run afoul of easily avoidable situations.

I own 10th Kingdom on VHS and DVD... that is how much of a dork I am for this stuff.

Now that I am away from that awful job and feeling a lot less stressed I've begun to watch some shows I heard about and do a little knitting to help my mind think. I want to talk about them.

Grimm and Once Upon a Time. One is a fantastic work with delightful set pieces, careful attention to detail amazing colors and well crafted stories. The other is a boring paint by numbers monster of the week that takes no risks.

Once Upon a Time is really a delightful undertaking. I hesitate to call it original (it has too much from Fable, 10th Kingdom and other recent works to claim that title.) but it is interesting in what it does with some characters and I'll give it points for some originality with Rumpelstiltskin, the Seven Dwarves, Hansel and Grettle, the mirror and of course the Mad Hatter.

The basic concept, all fairy tale characters have been cursed to live in our world and the curse inherently steals their happiness, is an interesting idea. After all in Fairy Tales there is a certain inertia to success of good people and good acts and being good is rewarded. In the real world this is not the case. It falls apart a little in that there are real struggles and a few characters Hansel and Grettle in particular don't seem to get a happy ending in their fairy tale story. Still at the same the curse as presented is pretty devious in how it effects people. It seems natural, removing things and interposing obstacles while it befuddles the tale people. Making them forget all their hard work to overcome and be better people.

The show is at its best when its exploring the minor side characters of our favorite fairy tales and in its attention to detail from the over the top costumes to the subtle hints of grays and light touches in the town of Storybroke, Maine. It uses its settings expertly and its costume work is great. It also uses some very good actors even the child actors come off really well. Henry, a crucial character really knows how to emote extremely well. I rather like Emma when she isn't just playing the tough girl. They have written her as the tough person who is slowly letting her walls drop as she comes to care for the people of the town. Regina and Mr. Gold though, of course, steal the show's attention with their excellent acting and over the top villainous plot arcs, yet they remain human and you can connect with them.

The fact that the town was caught, almost ossified in amber, in a perpetual single experience and now is changing is also interesting. It seems clear the suffering fo the characters while subtle was on going but Emma either A) Forces them out of it through sheer will or B) Empowers them to change.

I have also enjoyed all the references to fairy tales and other stories scattered over the show and hidden in the background. I love the fact that because ABC is owned by Disney they can sneak in Disney references all over the show.

Conceptually I'm loving this show. What I truly love is that the women are not tokens. Too often on TV, books and comics we have women filling very particular archetypes (the all forgiving wife, the supercilious action girl, the weak waif and so on) and often there is only one woman so she is the token that can represent all women. In this show if you consider the full cast you get a wide range of different women and different ways to behave and exist. Many are fully rounded complex people with foibles and flaws to match their triumphs and strengths. Even as fairy tales these women are intriguing and complex. I've most enjoy Ruby/Red Riding Hood and her confidence in the fairy tale world which is mirrored in Stroybroke, ME and while her particular story was not extremely original she still comes off as interesting and how she interacts with Snow White and the other women in town including Emma works well.

In other words this show, while not a feminist show, is good for people in how it portrays complex women and the stories about them. It does a lot to make good writing for women.

The biggest flaw for me is the portrayal of Emma the biological mother and Regina the adoptive mother. I get that adoptive mothers in fairy tales are often cast as villains. I understand that Emma staying around is mainly because she is not sure Regina loves Henry and is worried for his health. I get that Emma needs a reason to stay to end the curse. This all makes sense but I still dislike using the sticky and messy concept of adoption this way. Regina makes a number of strong, compelling arguments of why she is a fit mother and why what she does is for the good of Henry but they all fall apart because we know she is a duplicitous villain with larger goals. Ergo we must, by TV writing logic distrust her.

Still in the end Once Upon a Time is a good show and enjoyable. It isn't my favorite show on TV now or in my memory. But it is delightfully made and an intriguing show. Sit down and watch it. Preferably like I did with multiple episodes strung together.

Then there is Grimm... you know I'll keep that to another entry.

Grimm [what an unoriginal show]
Zia McCorgi by Cooner
It is a well known fact that in creative circles and production that few ideas can be kept secret for long. This is why you will often see similar ideas being produced at the same time. One often feels a little more rushed because it is the one that was created after another idea in an attempt to either A) copy an idea or B) get on the band wagon for a perceived possibility of success.

Grimm is clearly the inferior copy to Once Upon a Time and there is little evidence that could be given that would convince me that someone was taking the idea of supernatural/fairy tales in the modern world and just running with it.

Sadly where Once Upon a Time has a deeply thought out mythos, attention to detail, and delightful acting Grimm is a shoddy monster of the week bland show.

The basic premise is that there are people, called Grimms for reasons unexplained I suppose to connect to the brother's Grimm but no in universe explanation is given. Grimms are able to see the truth that there are creatures out there that look human but really are supernatural monsters. Many of these creatures have animal features. Nick the protagonist is a Grimm. Grimms apparently, for unknown reasons come into their own after another Grimm has died or is close to death. It is there job to kill the supernatural creatures who "go too far". Nick is new to his duties. If this sounds amazingly reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire slayer and its many copies that is because it is and really it doesn't do much to avoid the connection to Supernatural, Buffy or Charmed. The most original idea they have with this is that Nick's aunt who raised him is a Grimm and she is a long time Grimm who some of the creatures seem to fear just by name. We get her for two episodes the pilot and the second. In both she is clearly suffering from cancer and obviously weak. She's also the most interesting part of the show.

It isn't awful. It actually can have some decent writing and the Main character, Nick Burkhard, has an oddly good chemistry with Monroe the blutbad the vegetarian wolf creature he goes to for advice and help. There is enough chemistry that I keep expecting them to make out. Monroe actually chews a lot of scenes he is in because he is interesting and has some skill. It also has an oddly interesting on going subplot with the chief of police who knows Nick is a Grimm and knows about the supernatural creatures about and might be one himself and seems to be manipulating events. I'll even give it the benefit of the doubt and say that Nick's semi-Fiance Julliette is interesting and the actors have a decent comfort level that they pull off the "we've dated for a long time" and there is some tension now in that Nick is unsure if he wishes to propose to her and put her in danger.

The strongest bit to the show is the Grimm Library. A mobile home that Nick's aunt bequeaths to him and has generations of Grimm lore telling about difference creatures, their weaknesses and filled with assorted tools, treasures, and potions that can kill the monsters. It has a delightful creepy 19th century flare to it and whenever Nick is in his library I'm delighted. It is also clearly abused for the easy answer solution to every problem.

But really the show is just derivative. It doesn't take many risks with its ideas and it relies on very old conventions to tell its stories. Nick is never wrong about the monster he is tracking down. The cops are always right. The bring up profiling but never run with it as an idea when it comes to these supernatural creatures. Monroe is treated as a unique individual for the fact that he works against type. The one black man who is in fact a supernatural beast is of course A) a previous felon B) a supernatural beast centered on strength and a rhino influenced creature and C) an athlete way to work against stereotypes [same episode a leonine creature who is the master mind of the events in story is white]

It is worse in that the monsters of the week are often obscure and we waste time reviewing them every episode and often its hard to tell them apart really. Its boring silly and the episode plot lines are contrived in many places. Really this is the type of show you should watch with friends and mock as you're doing it the dialog is uninspired, the stories are weak, and it doesn't take any risks.

It annoys me that this show has been approved for a second season.